Esplen is the western-most neighborhood in the City of Pittsburgh. Very small in geographic and population size, not many Pittsburghers are even aware that this area of the City exists! Bordering the Ohio River, legend has it that Esplen was formed when a blasting crew working on railroad construction in the 1800’s caused a landslide.
A more reliable history has John Esplen an early settler of the area, as the namesake. The original neighborhood housed a railroad camp and became bordered by the tracks that the workers building the various railroads constructed.
The area is bordered on the north by the Ohio River, the west by Chartiers Creek and McKees Rocks, the south by Sheraden and the east by Elliott. The main road through Esplen is West Carson Street, which leads to the South Side.
According to some former residents of the neighborhood, Esplen had a large Lithuanian population, along with Polish, Italian, Irish, Slovak and Slovenian immigrants. Most likely they were involved in early railroad construction. It was a working class neighborhood with large families. There were a few grocery stores, churches, bars and restaurants to service the residents and immigrant workers. Most of the homes, built in the early 1900’s, were large due to the fact that several generations of families resided together. Today, Esplen holds a fraction of the population it held many years ago, but it’s history of providing the transportation through-ways that serviced the great city of Pittsburgh is as crucial as any neighborhood.